Behavioural changes in dogs with idiopathic epilepsy

Objective

Breed-specific and broader cohort studies have shown behavioural changes in dogs following the onset of idiopathic epilepsy (IE).

Methods

A cross-sectional, case–control questionnaire study was carried out to strengthen this body of evidence. Owners of eight breeds of dog completed an online questionnaire about their dogs’ behaviour; once for control dogs and twice for dogs with IE, for both pre-IE and post-IE onset behaviour.

Results

Ninety-six (24.74 per cent) dogs with IE and 292 (75.26 per cent) age and breed-matched control dogs met the inclusion criteria. Control dogs had significantly higher ‘Trainability’ scores than dogs with IE (P=0.04). After IE, dogs had significantly higher ‘Dog-Directed Fear or Aggression’ (P=0.02), ‘Non-Social Fear’ (P=0.01), ‘Attachment/Attention-Seeking Behaviour’ (P=0.04), ‘Attention-Deficit’ (P=0.02) and significantly lower ‘Trainability’ (P=0.02) than prior to the onset of IE. Medication status did not significantly affect any behavioural factor, but drug-resistant dogs had significantly less ‘Trainability’ than drug-responsive (P=0.04) and partially drug-responsive dogs (P=0.03).

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